ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Ube Industries Ltd., a maker of large-tonnage injection presses, expects to be building 70-80 machines annually at its first North American plant by the end of the decade. Ube has sold nearly 300 of its injection presses in North America in the past decade. The success of its product, among automakers in particular, led the company to begin construction on a 50,000-square-foot machine-building factory near Ann Arbor.
Ube did not disclose its investment in the new plant. However, in an application for a 12-year property tax abatement with a local township, the company said its minimum investment at the new Ann Arbor facility would be $3.2 million.
The plant, scheduled to open in May, is expected to produce 30-40 injection presses in its first year. Ube, with head offices in Tokyo and Ube, Japan, also plans to begin building metal die casting machines in Ann Arbor by late 1997.
The company also produces squeeze-cast aluminum automo-tive wheels at its A-Mold Corp. unit in Mason, Ohio.
In 1984, Ford Motor Co. installed its first injection press from Ube Industries Ltd. to mold bumpers for the Taurus sedan and Aerostar van. Since then, Ford has added another 54 Ube machines, crediting the supplier with making a major contribution to the success of its molding operations.
Ford and General Motors Corp. are UBE's main customers, said Toshiro Kawaguchi, managing director for machinery. Kawaguchi spoke at an Ube groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 16.
In Ann Arbor, Ube plans to build machines with clamping forces of 500-4,000 tons.
Most of the molding machines Ube has sold in the United States have been 1,500 tons or greater and are used to mold large plastic parts such as bumpers, bumper covers and body panels.